Friday, April 3, 2009

“Things you own end up owning you” - Leaders find what motivates

For whatever reason, I’ve always been a form of a minimalist. I’m the type of person that does have extra stuff and prefers not to replace things until absolutely necessary. This trait is certainly in vogue with today’s economy.

When I first heard the quote in the 1999 cult movie The Fight Club, “things you own end up owning you,” it made me smile. Later, bands like Papa Roach and Bleed in Vain would see the same thing I did and use it in their lyrics.

As a leader, it makes me thrifty, someone who wants expenditures justified and a person that can envision a lean operation free of clutter and inventory. Those who have visited my office can vouch that it is sparsely decorated and only work-in-progress is out. As a member of a team, I am more motivated by the opportunity to work on the difficult assignments than being rewarded with “stuff.” Knowing I am at one extreme of a continuum, I have been careful to observe others and be sure to recognize them as they prefer. This means to do it differently than what I like.

Have you carefully made this assessment when you recognize teammates? Have you lessons to share?

For the extreme minimalist, here is a look at The Story of Stuff with Anne Leonard.


Klint C. Kendrick, MBA SPHR said...

I was surfing B-Net yesterday and they had a great suggestion about keeping morale up; an important task in tough economic times.

They suggested writing a simple "Thank you" message on sticky notes. In times of cost cutting and impersonal email, this can make a huge difference.

I went to look for the full stoy, but couldn't find it, if I stumble across a link, I'll post it here.

Manirangan seetharam said...

"The context of your inference to minimalist tendency is the right thing for individuals, teams and corporations to follow but contradictory to our capitilists and consumption oriented gowth. recessions brings out from us great ideas which are surfacing now as we are pulled into the vortex and feeling the pressure of being pulled in. I have observed some of my collegues who are incredibly commited to their work and continously work towards their goals and ready to take up any challanges with out expecting any immediate reward in return. These people tend to challenge themselves to do better and are fighting with themselves to remain committed. I have seen people with this trait are most successful and hold top positions. It goes with out saying they are standing examples of integrity. These guys are very strong from inside. Also they aree very frugal with themselves and have no great interest in aquiring stuff ."

Clare Novak said...

"Hi John, I'm right there with you. Ever since owning my business, whenever I look at some attractive piece of stuff, I calculate how much more revenue I'd have to generate to buy it and how many more hours of work would be required to produce that revenue. Then I ask, "Do I really want to work that many more hours?" Many times the answer is "no." When the answer is "yes," I work harder and longer. When recognizing people who are "stuff" oriented, I make the effort to find something they will appreciate that is unique and/or quality and/or consumable. I think it was Steven Wright who said "You can't have everything. Where would you put it?" Clare"

Ian Berry said...

"Good stuff John! I featured The story of stuff on my blog once and received an enormous amount of feedback. It is great and a very well put together video. I love the leadership is a verb concept John and have recently linked my blog to yours."

Paulette DeGard said...

Hi John,

I agree with you about stuff. We live on a boat most of the time, which is a great motivator for moderation. The question one must always pose is "Where shall I put it?" or "Will it fall over and break when we're underway?" Just yesterday we saw a beautiful plant in a store but it was tall and narrow and we both agreed that it was not appropriate for the boat.

As for your question on recoginition, I believe that you can never recognize your team too much. That is one area I try to be lavish in. Often after everyone is gone I go around to my team members' desk and put little cards that have encouraging quotes. I noticed earlier today that Voula had kept all of hers and has them up on the side wall of her cube. When I noticed that I realized that this small gesture must mean a lot or else she would have thrown them away long ago.

We also try to go out to lunch once a month as a team. It's a little harder these days as some of the team has been moved to other areas, but the connection of the times we have gone out together still keeps us a team, even if we're not all together right now.

I work with some amazing people and I work hard to keep them motivated and contributing to the overall good of the group and the company.



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